Thursday, 4 May 2017

We should "Go for it."

On Tuesday of this week our former Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg said on Radio 4's Today programme words to the effect that Mrs May and the Tories are more or less bound to win the election.  Then on the same slot on Wednesday our present leader Tim Farron said she was "Slam dunk" (whatever hat means) for victory.

I find this astonishing  in any circumstances.  Whoever went into a competition saying they were bound to lose? In the present circumstances it is outrageously timid.  Throughout the "Western" world politics have never been so uncertain.

In France not one but both major parties, the Socialist Party of the incumbent president and the standard alternative right wing party, the Republicans, have been eliminated from the presidential election, and the final contest is to be between the Far Right and a man representing no party at all.  And although M Macron appears to have a 60/40 lead there are still fears that sufficient socialists and other on the left may abstain rather than put clothes pegs on their noses and vote to stop the Front National, who consequently believe there is still "all to play for."

And only last year world opinion had it that Mrs Clinton was a "shoe in" for the US Presidency, and that Donald Trump was an outrageous and unbalanced maverick whom everyone could see was totally unfit for any sort of public office.  And now he holds the most powerful position in the world.

In 2011 the Liberals, Canada's "natural party of government" were not just beaten but reduced to third place, but returned to majority and government in 2015

And in this country in 2011, at the start of the  referendum on electoral reform those in favour had a two to one majority.  But we lost. And last year a victory for leaving the EU seemed so improbable that no one bothered to  put in a requirement for the usual  super-majority which is standard when even such as golf clubs and music societies want to change their constitutions.  So now we're lumbered with Brexit.

With politics so volatile, why don't we "progressives" go all out for rejecting what must surely be the mast damaging and destructive, government n our post-war history?  ( Yes, probably even more so than Mrs Thatcher's, though she started the rot).

The conditions for this to happen include:

  1. Labour party stalwarts stop sniping  at Jeremy Corbyn, let him be himself* and get behind him;
  2. Liberal Democrats, Greens, nationalists and others also stop sniping and attacking each other and agree that they are prepared to work together with Labour and each other  to recreate our tolerant, generous and open liberal democracy;
  3. Stop the Brexit nonsense altogether;
  4. If the party leaderships won't make electoral pacts, use co-ordinated tactical voting to return progressive pro-EU members to the new parliament.
There isn't much time, but this will  replace a reluctant rearguard action with an exciting vision worth fighting for.

*  Here's an upbeat extract from Simon Jenkins's article in today's Guardian:

Corbyn should  . . .[go] for broke.  Invite a vote for moral outrage,  nuclear disarmament  and an end to neo-imperial wars.  Attack  chief executive salaries , crazy energy subsidies and vanity infrastructure projects.  Promote universal incomes, prison reform and drug legislation.

Well, not all Liberal Democrats, Greens, nationalists et al would agree with all of that (though I do) but surely it's something we can work with, and better than the destructive paths on which Mrs May seems hell-bent.


  1. Just two years ago potential Liberal Democrat voters, all over the country but particularly in our held seats, were frightened by the believable threat of a Labour/SNP victory, endlessly reiterated by the Tories. Now that is not a credible outcome - with Corbyn and the SNP both in retreat - it is only realistic to anticipate the need for an effective Lib Dem opposition rather than fly in the face of reality. And since the Labour Peers and MPs have been just as useless as Corbyn himself in standing up to May's hard Brexit mamipulation, why should we treat them as possible "progressive" allies ? Sorry Peter !

  2. A very experienced Liberal friend told me some time ago that my vision, described above, is "pure fantasy." (He had a lot of experience of being obstructed, by fair means an foul,by hard-line Labour.) But similarly I believe his vision, that we can take advantage of the present fluid situation and jump straight from the fringe (even, since 2015, beyond the fringe)is even more fantastic. On the way back to government we are going to have to make arrangements with some or all of the above,just as Labour in the 1920s had to rely on minority support from with us. And, as believers in PR, we presumably want to create a situation in which working together with others becomes the norm

    Another five years of majority Tory government will be calamitous for the sort of country in which I'd be proud to live, especially if hard Brexit is enacted. Although there is little time, we need to bash heads together, put minor differences below the radar for a while, circumvent the biassed Tory press and start to re-create the sort of country the majority (just) actually want.

  3. I too listened to the pm interview with Tim Fallon, and I was astonished by many of his comments. I think it's the first time I've ever heard him interviewed to be honest. I wasn't impressed. He didn't display leadership qualities to me, he came across as a middle-weight politician, getting himself in trouble a number of times. The playing of the 'class' card was particularly embarrassing.

    Corbyn made a good start to his career as Labour leader, but even his enthusiasm seems to have waned.

    1. Thanks for your comment, Mr Stewart.

      I've always found it difficult to give an objective assessment of the performances of Liberal Democrat leaders on the radio and TV. Charles Kennedy had the reputation of being a good communicator, but I felt he often went all round the houses before getting to the point. I was often provoked to shouting "Answer the question" at my little inoffensive DAB radio when he was being interviewed.

      Both Nick Clegg and Tim Farron (not Fillon - shows how good his name recognition is) try to come over as reasonable and ordinary chaps, but both often seem garrulous to me.

      I think Farron knew he was pushing the boundary by talking about his class. After all, he did recognise it as "playing the card." But for what it is worth, it is true. Corbyn is the son of a maths teacher (mother) and electrical engineer (father) and was first educated at an independent prep school before going to grammar school.

      Tim was brought up by his "single parent" mother after his father, a construction worker, left the family. He was educated at what appear to be state schools.